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United Building
Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth), Eastern Cape

OWEN EATON and TAIT: Architect

Client:United Building Society
Style:Chicago style


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33°57'42.18" S 25°37'21.74" E Alt: 49m

Cumming-George 1933

THE "UNITED BUILDING", the new home of the United Building Society, is situated on one of the most prominent business stands in the city, and consisting of nine floors of offices, it rises to a height of 116 feet (35.35 m) from the pavement.

This elegant "skyscraper," for such it is compared with the older buildings in Port Elizabeth, is constructed on modern fireproof lines, the main structure being of reinforced concrete.

From the pavement up to the level of the first floor window sills, the street facades are carried out in polished dark granite and from this level upwards the material selected for the facings is reconstructed granite unpolished.

The windows to the above facades are executed in bronze.

A notable feature of the roof is the absence of such excrescences as lift machinery rooms, this accommodation being provided in the basement.

The basement, ground floor, mezzanine, and first floor will eventually be occupied by the Society, while the upper floors have been divided into suites of offices for letting purposes.

Entering the building from Main Street, there is a spacious entrance hall, panelled up to the ceiling in marble and with a marble tile floor.

From this entrance hall, and from which the main staircase leads, conveyance to the upper floors is provided by two high-speed elevators, representing, it is said, the very latest ideas in vertical transport.

They are of the special gearless type, accomplishing — without any auxiliary — the self-levelling of the car, and the maintenance of that level under all conditions of service.

Lavatory blocks, record rooms and tea-rooms are conveniently situated on each floor.

Warm, resilient and silent floors have been assured by the laying of half-inch thick cork tiles throughout the building.

(SAB Apr 1928:55; Modus 1 (2) 1987:9)

Extant but the ground floor has sadly been altered. (Gerald Humphrey 2015)

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Writings about this entry

Cumming-George, L. 1933. Architecture in South Africa - Volume One. Cape Town: The Speciality Press of S.A. Ltd.. pg 143 ill, 144